Nicole Faraday: "Bad Girls lives on."
The actor/singer on Snowball vs. Shell and her upcoming performance at the Ella International Lesbian Festival.
Ten Six Eight Photography
If you’re as much of a Bad Girls fan as I am, you’ll undoubtedly recognise the gorgeous Nicole Faraday as the one and only Snowball Merriman.
She’s come a long way since Larkhall, carving out a successful career in theatre, TV and film. In addition to all her acting work, super-talented Nicole is also a gifted singer. Her next gig? The world famous Ella International Lesbian Festival...
DIVA: How are you feeling about performing at Ella?
NICOLE: It will be brilliant fun. It was set up by a girl I was at school with, Kristin. We were at boarding school together. She was probably my first sort of female interest, as it were. It was before I really realised what I was doing or knew what I was. We stayed in touch ever since and she then set up the Ella International Lesbian Festival.
What will you be doing there this year?
I’m performing twice. One is at an intimate dinner for 60 people and the other is on the main stage for a thousand people, which is slightly daunting! I don’t write my own material. I’ve made a career of playing other people. I’ve played Eva Cassidy on three national tours and Marilyn Monroe and I do a lot of gigs where I sing Karen Carpenter, so it’ll be my covers of my favourite female singers.
Have you done any big festivals like Ella before?
I’ve sung at Brighton Pride and I’ve gigged all over the place. I’ve sung at the Albert Hall with a 22-piece orchestra.
Wow! When you do gigs like Ella or Brighton Pride, do you have lots of Bad Girls fanatics coming up to express their love for you?
Yeah totally. It’s lovely though. Bad Girls has a really hardcore audience that are still massive fans. There’s a fan club on Twitter and on Facebook. They’ve all very sweetly asked me to join and they email me, send me screen grabs and stuff. I love it because it was my big break and I loved doing it. God, I wish I hadn’t hung myself in it. I would have liked to have been in it longer! I did two series and I was gutted when they killed me off.
So were we! It would have been great to see more Snowball.
But then off the back of that I did Bad Girls The Musical. It was only a couple of months between being written out of the TV series, being really miserable at home thinking, “Am I ever gonna work again?” and being called into a meeting. I’m wondering, “Is it going to be a shower scene? Are they going to bring me back from the dead?” And they said, “We’ve come up with this idea for a musical and we know musical theatre is your background. Would you like to do a workshop of it playing Shell?” I was like, “Yes!”
So you got to play two of the most legendary Bad Girls - Shell and Snowball.
It was funny because growing up, it was always, “You look like that Shell off Bad Girls.” Then Snowball was brought in as sort of the new Shell. Shell even came back and said, “Who does she think she is, nicking my look?” So it was then quite serendipitous playing Shell in the musical.
It must have been so much fun.
It was brilliant fun. Shell was like the ultimate Bad Girl. The denouement of the musical was me handcuffing Jim Fenner to the bed, shagging him and setting him on fire, which is, you know, quite a good storyline! Bad Girls has been amazing for me. It lives on because it keeps being repeated, and there’s the fan clubs and also the musical. Even now, there’s lots of amateur and student productions of it and they invite me to come down and do masterclasses and tell them backstage secrets.
I saw you in the musical when it was at the West Yorkshire Playhouse and I absolutely loved it.
You saw it! We’ve had so many amazing people over the years that have taken part. Heather [Peace] was in it at one point playing Nikki Wade. I think I was the only one that was in every single one. I was like, “No, I’m not giving it up! I love playing Shell!”
I don't blame you! So having played both Shell and Snowball, who do you think would win Top Dog if they went head to head?
Well, Snowball’s much more intelligent than Shell, but then Shell would go headlong into something and not think about the consequences. Shell’s more reckless and Snowball’s more intelligent... I’d like to think Snowball!
Read more of our interview with Nicole, including how Bad Girls helped her accept her own sexuality, in the October issue of DIVA, which goes on sale 22 September and is in shops 28 September.
And to stay up to date with Nicole's current and future projects, visit nicolefaraday.co.uk.